Chapter 13

I walked downstairs, ridiculously happy because Ross was holding my hand. The pain and longing that had plagued my heart for so long had all disappeared (because it had been the part of me reserved for loving Ross, I realised) and I finally felt gloriously whole and complete. I used the wonderful telepathic connection to convey all these things to Ross who I could feel tucking them away into the part of his mind which set aside the precious memories to be cherished while also sending me his quiet, rather more contained joy. I could feel he was trying to calm my emotions slightly because I was feeling so energetic.

I bounced into the living room where my parents were sitting talking to Jack.

"Hey," I said jovially.

My parents and Jack looked up and my father especially looked amused by my mood.

"Why so happy?" my mum asked.

"I'm with my kingfisher!" I said as if announcing I'd just won a competition.

I heard Ross laugh behind me and could see Jack trying very hard to fight a smile.

"That's very good, dear." Mum smiled and gave Dad a wistful look. He looked at her lovingly in return.

Dad glanced back at us and said to Ross "She's full of beans tonight, isn't she?"

The emotion in Ross's voice as he replied almost turned me into a blubbering wreck. "She's amazing, sir."

Jack stood up. "I think we better go, Ross. It's getting quite late and you know Mum."

I frowned. "Ross isn't allowed to go home."

Ross laughed again. "Darling, I have to."

I turned to him and made my face sad. "But... I haven't conveyed the full extent of my love for you yet."

Ross grinned. "Yes, you have. I just couldn't give you an exact figure. It was too huge."

"I'll miss you," I said softly and sincerely.

"It's only going to be like ten hours."

"Ten hours?!" I asked, horrified.

"Well you'll be asleep for about eight of them, and we'll need to have breakfast and stuff before we spend time together because otherwise we'll just forget about it and die of starvation in each other's arms."

"How romantic..."

"No, Rosa, that would be tragic."

"Is anything not tragic when we're faced with the prospect of time spent apart?"

Ross grinned. "You're so melodramatic."

"I know." I grinned back as he leant down to kiss me.

***

Monday 22nd November

I've got my diary back! Yay! Now I can write all about how much I love Ross. Jack gave it back to me this morning when he came over with Ross. He wanted to give me a last present to remind us of our time together. It was a card addressed to ‘Juliet' from ‘Beowulf'. Ross, of course, was puzzled and I don't think I'll tell him until I've gotten over Jack. It is depressing when I dwell upon my love for Jack, but I know that my love for Ross is so much stronger that a little pain is bearable. I never expected myself to get over Jack in a day and the seven month interval between the last day I kissed Ross two days after Jack's 17th and yesterday was greatly unhelpful.

Oh dear. Ross is reading over my shoulder. I can't get any privacy now, but I suppose I did want things this way. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Everything written here will be accessible to him whenever we touch.

***

Rosa doesn't know I'm writing this, but I wanted to put something for her to read whenever the cruel world decides we can't be together.

I love you, Rosa, with all my heart (even the bit behind the wall I won't put down). It's so marvellous to be your kingfisher and I hope you feel the same way about being my rose-dove. Love you. Ross. xxx

***

            I ambled downstairs, since Mum had called me. I was surprised that Ross wasn't behind me, but he said he'd wait for me while I saw what she wanted.

Surprisingly, there was a blonde-haired lady sitting on the sofa in the living room.  I didn't think I knew her.

"Um, hey," I said.

"Hi," she said. "I don't think we've met. I'm your mum's friend, Leanne."

"Oh, that's cool. I'm Rosa. Has Mum offered you tea?"

"Oh yes. I said I didn't want any. But thanks for asking."

"So, how d'you know her?"

"Well, my husband Alex and I have been her friends since secondary school."

"Oh, that's interesting. Did my mum go out or something?"

"Yeah, she popped out for a moment."

"So, ... did you do anything on Bonfire Night?" I asked, racking my brains for something to talk about so there wasn't an awkward silence.

"Well, Alex and I went to a fireworks display together. You?"

"Well, I went with my ex."

"Oh, I'm sorry you're not together anymore."

"Well, I am too, but I found someone else so I'm happy again."

"Oh, that's good then."

"Yeah. He's round here, now."

"Oh, is he? That's nice. I remember one time Tirana - your mother - needed company and I stayed round hers a lot. It's nice to do stuff with friends like that. Alex wasn't too happy, though.

"Oh, that's a shame."

I heard footsteps on the stairs.

"Oh, it sounds like Ross is coming down," I said brightly.

Leanne frowned slightly. "Ross? Is that his name?"

I nodded.

Ross appeared in the doorway. He froze when he saw Leanne.

"Hey," I said, turning to him. "What's wrong?"

He stared at Leanne. "What is she doing here?"

"Who? This is Mum's friend."

"I know perfectly well who she is."

Leanne looked pale.

"Who?" I asked.

"My mother."

 I could see the barely contained anger in his expression. Undisguised loathing was present in his eyes.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I said. "And I talked to her, ... was conversational. Oh darling, what must you think of me?"

I turned to the suddenly unwanted woman on my couch.

"I think you should go," I said coolly.

"Rosa, that's no way to talk to a guest," my mother said sternly as she walked in carrying shopping bags.

"How can you let her come round after what she did to Ross, Mum?" I asked, appalled.

"She's my friend, Rosa. Wouldn't you stand by Jack?"

Leanne stood up, looking nervous. "Maybe I should go. It was nice to see you Rani."

"Oh don't be silly, Leanne. You only just got here."

I could sense Ross bristling with anger behind me.

Leanne looked apologetically at Ross. "I am sorry, Ross."

Ross wasn't behind me anymore. At least it didn't feel like he was there. I could no longer sense him at my shoulder level. I suddenly heard a frightening sound behind my legs. It was a snarl. I turned and found myself looking at a wolf.

A wolf in my house! Where was Ross? And then I looked closer. The wolf's fur was the colour of ash. That wasn't the usual colour for a wolf's pelt. The brown eyes might be unfamiliar and lupine but that fur was definitely the colour of Ross's hair.

"Ross?" I asked, not quite daring to believe my eyes.

I saw the wolf give a slight nod.

Behind me, Leanne screamed. "Rani, there's a wolf in your house!"

I crouched down, ignoring her shouts and lay a hand on the wolf's fur.

Cold fury. Sharp thoughts. It was Ross and he was furious.

She is so going to regret coming here.

‘Hey, darling, calm down,' I thought. ‘She'll go away.'

I want her to suffer, Rosa.

"Rosa, get your hand off that wolf. He's dangerous," my mother shouted.

I rolled my eyes. "He's my kingfisher, Mum. I doubt he's going to bite me."

‘You won't, will you?'

Of course not, darling.

"What is a wolf doing in your house?" Leanne asked. "And why is Rosa petting it?"

I turned to face her, but kept my hand on Ross's rough hide.

"This wolf is your son," I said. "And he is the best boyfriend in the world. If you don't get out right now, you deserve what he's thinking of doing to you."

"Don't be silly. That's not Ross," Leanne said.

Ross growled.

I wondered suddenly where my mum had gone. Seconds later she reappeared, to be followed by a great big wolf about twice the size of Ross. This wolf's fur was the dark brown and tinged with grey and reminded me of the waves of hair that belonged to...

"Dad?"

Dad nodded and slowly walked towards Ross.

Ross's hackles were raised and he was growling louder. His gaze was fixed on Leanne who looked as if she were about to faint.

Suddenly, Ross lunged forwards in Leanne's direction.

My dad reacted quickly, throwing himself in front of Ross to obstruct his path, snarling.

"Stop!" I yelled. I quickly stood up and walked over to them. I stood in front of my dad so that I was between him and Ross. "You are not attacking my kingfisher."

I bent down again and turned towards Ross. I stroked his fur. "I love you," I said aloud.

"Rani, your daughter's gone crazy," Leanne said nervously.

"Oh shut up," I said. "Look what you've done to your own flesh and blood. You've made him so angry, so bitter that he's turned into a wolf."

I stood up. "And you know what's infuriating? The fact you abandoned him means there's a massive great wall closing off his deeper emotions. Do you know how difficult that makes the relationship?"

"Rosa, go to your room now!" Mum said, looking shocked.

"No," I said defiantly. "My kingfisher is upset and distressed because of this woman. How can you still be friends with her? She ruined my lover's life."

I crouched down again and turned to Ross. "I am so sorry," I murmured, stroking his fur again. "I love you. I don't care if you attack anyone. Just don't be so dispassionate all the time."

Ross leant forwards and licked my cheek. I laughed as his rough tongue tickled my skin.

"Rani, the ash-coloured wolf just licked your daughter!"

"Um, shall we see each other another time?" my mum asked.

"But what about the wolves?!"

"The ... the wolves are fine. I'm going to call an expert. I think we need as few people around as possible, so they don't get aggravated."

Leanne looked dubious. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine." My mother smiled.

"Shall we say tomorrow, my place?"

"Brilliant."

Leanne carefully stepped over my dad and her son and walked out, casting nervous glances behind her to check they weren't following her or eyeing her up for dinner.

"Hey, can you stay like this darling?" I asked, putting my arms around him.

I don't think your parents would be too happy.

‘I don't care about them.'

Okay. Let's go out to the garden.

I smiled as I stood up and walked out to the garden, Ross at my side.

"I'll talk to you about this later," my mother called, sounding weary, but still angry.

***

            Outside, I sat and huddled close to Ross in the cool winter air. I had one arm around him as if he were a dog. Really, he wasn't very much different from a dog. He was a small wolf, I could tell, from the difference between his size and Dad's. I couldn't quite believe that my dad could turn into a wolf. But then again, I hadn't known this about witches.

"When were you going to tell me you were a werewolf?" I asked jokingly.

‘Well, I hoped I wouldn't have to. We're supposed to be aggressive in this form.'

"Really?"

Yeah. The feline form is the affectionate one. Do you like cats?

"I love them."

‘I can turn into one now if you want.'

"It's a bit cold at the minute, so if you do, do it when we're indoors."

Of course. I don't feel the cold so much like this so it's easy to forget the season.

I smiled. "How can Leanne think you're a freak? You're so amazing."

‘I'm glad you think so, but remember that she doesn't even know I'm a witch.'

"Really?"

‘Oh yeah. She just thinks I'm some severely abnormal human.'

"That's no reason to abandon you."

‘I didn't say it was. I hate her for that. You were right when you said that she ruined my life.'

"Ah well. I'm here to look after you now. To fill those gaps which the people you needed allowed to develop."

‘I'm very glad.'

"Me too. I like being there for someone, especially where someone else has dismally failed."

‘You're so lovely.'

"Thank you."

‘No problem.'

I buried my head in his fur as I hugged him. I'd always had a soft spot for furry animals, but who could have guessed I'd end up hugging a wolf? It was bewildering.

I sat there for a long time, warm and content: awed by my boyfriend's abilities: pleased that he had them rather than fearing them. It made him more special, more of the precious person I loved so much.

‘I love you,' I thought to him.

‘You've said.'

I laughed. ‘I'm so happy you're mine.'

***

The End

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